Travel Marketing – Google research reveals all

Travel Marketing – Google research reveals all

There's no doubt that as travel customers become more sophisticated in how they research, compare and book their holidays, travel brands must become more refined and conscious in how they market their products. 


Google's recent (and ongoing) research into 'micro-moments' within the travel sector has definitely been helping brands stay focussed on understanding their customers.  The conclusion themselves, although seemingly common sense – can become a guiding compass to any marketers willing to engage more effectively and in a timely manner with their target audience.  The actual 'micro-moments' themselves point to a seismic shift in how travellers plan, book and get the most from their trips.


What are 'micro-moments'?


“Life isn't lived in years or days even hours. It's lived in moments.”


Google's research into online behaviour amongst holidaymakers was a cross-platform in-depth analysis.  It looked into every aspect of the user experience and analysed the customer journey in a genuinely holistic way.  For perhaps the first time, it offered all travel companies the opportunity to understand a traveller's decision-making process.


The research gave them the following, clear stages of the customer journey:


I-Want-to-Get-Away-Moments – those early stages of daydreaming about locations, looking for places that match a loose aspiration or just seeing what others are looking at, talking about or even reviewing. 


KEY STATS: 78% of travellers haven't decided on an airline at this point and 82% haven't decided on the accommodation provider either. 60% of searches in this stage come from mobiles.


Time-to-Make-a-Plan-Moments – once the location has been decided upon it's time to look at more practical stuff like flight availability and whether bookings are being taken at locations for the desired dates.  Add to that anything from event information, car rental and ongoing travel arrangements. 


KEY STAT: Travellers typically search less during this stage than the previous.  They search more than the following stage though.


Let's-Book-It-Moments – they're ready to hit the 'book now' button so the process needs to be intuitive, easy and clear.


KET STAT: 94% of all travellers will switch between devices at this stage.


Can't-Wait-to- Explore-Moments – all of these occur once on holiday. They're looking for timely information on anything from local attractions, live events, bus and taxi services, tips on local customs or whether the nearest waterpark is open on a Sunday. 


KEY STAT: 85% decide on activities after arriving at their chosen destination.

What was their advice to travel brands?

After the exhaustive research Google offered the following advice to travel brands:

Be there – turn up at the right times, with the right content.  Think about all sorts of content from video to destination guides; from apps to blogs; from advertising to social media posts.

Be useful – focus on creating amazing content for travellers that will help them in all four 'micro-moment' stages.

In addition, their case studies and ongoing publications point strongly at the following, as priorities:

  • respond to customer needs;
  • create an exceptional UX; and
  • try to react in real time as much as possible.
How can travel brands capitalise on these new insights?


In terms of helping travel brands understand where consumers are at, Google's research provides more than just food for thought.  It accurately maps out their behaviour in ways not seen previously - whilst indicating what brands can do to respond.


A big trend within marketing in recent years has been the employment of data scientists to help companies understand, anticipate and serve their customers more effectively.  Compared to other sectors, travel has perhaps been behind the curve in employing that level of expertise.


The new insights from Google clearly give all brands an opportunity to respond to their marketing challenges in a more intelligent way – whether they have data scientists in their team or not.


From sentiment analysis and keyword research to understanding abandoned shop-cart trends, scroll depth, time spent on page, and social signals - there's no shortage of available data pertinent to your organisation’s (and competitors) content.  Whatever your budget, there's insight available right now, that will show how your brand is performing and how your consumers are behaving.


Companies such as Moz, SEMrush, SEOprofiler, for example, can accurately report on many aspects of online behaviour and data analysis not within the Google analytics framework – adding breadth and depth to any marketing department's understanding.  This can then help to inform content calendars, show you what's working and what's not, and help you reach more people - in particular 'moments'.


This available data, when held within the context of the 'micro-moment's research', can make a massive difference to how travel marketers perform.  What's clear, to me at least, is that there's never been a better time for good content to excel –and Google just made that crystal.

Matt Rochford is an account manager at Big Star Copywriting. He looks after some leading brands within the travel sector, and often blogs on travel marketing and related topics.

Matt Rochford Account Manager Big Star Copywriting
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